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Renault-Nissan Alliance Turns To Microsoft’s Azure Cloud For Connected Cars

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

microsoft-and-renaultnissan-150x150Microsoft has inked a deal to aid the Renault-Nissan Alliance in developing next-generation connected services for self-driving cars that will be enabled through Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure.

Azure cloud services, the companies said, will be the foundation for more advanced navigation features, vehicle monitoring and predictive vehicle maintenance and for mobile connectivity and over-the-air updates.

Renault-Nissan plans to develop connectivity technologies and features to support the launch of more than 10 vehicles with autonomous driving technology by 2020 “with services to maximize better use of newly found in-car free time.”

While still separate companies, Renault and Nissan in 1999 created an alliance to develop and sell vehicles under their namesake brands as well as seven others, including Dacia, Infiniti and Mitsubishi Motors. The partnership between the two automakers also established them as the world’s largest plug-in electric vehicle manufacturers.

Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior vice president of Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services, said that as cars become “increasingly connected, intelligent and personal,” partnering with Microsoft will allow the companies to accelerate services customers want and build new “ones they haven’t even imagined.

“We aim to become the provider of connected mobility for everyone with one single global platform,” Redzic said in a statement.

Renault-Nissan said it selected Azure in part because of its enterprise-grade security and Microsoft’s “rigorous commitment to compliance.”

Azure also supports multiple operating systems and programming languages, which will provide flexibility in building a common platform for Renault-Nissan to deploy services to both Alliance brands, the companies said.

 

Samsung Says Over 60% Of Defective Samsung Note 7 Phones Have Been Recovered

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co announced it has received back more than 60 percent of recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in South Korea and the United States, suggesting it is making progress in its attempts to recover from the crisis.

In a statement, Samsung said it was focused on replacing all affected devices “as quickly and efficiently” as possible and reiterated its request that customers affected by the current recall should power off their device and turn them in.

The world’s top smartphone maker announced on Sept. 2 a global recall of at least 2.5 million Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets due to faulty batteries causing some phones to catch fire. The company says replacement devices it began issuing in mid-September use safe batteries.

Samsung hopes to take the faulty products off the market as soon as possible in order to limit further damage to its reputation and resume sales of the flagship device ahead of the key holiday shopping season in major markets such as the United States.

But the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm. Reports of Note 7 fires and damages have continued after the recall announcement, while aviation authorities around the world issued warnings or outright bans on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft.

Samsung was also forced to push back the start of Note 7 sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1 due to relatively slow progress in the recall in its home market.

Some analysts say the cost of the recall and lost sales could wipe off nearly $5 billion in revenues for Samsung this year. Samsung said around 90 percent of customers who turned in their device through the exchange program have opted for a replacement Note 7, but it remains unclear how strong demand from new customers would be when sales resume.

Microsoft Acknowledges Windows 10 Adoption Rate Has Cooled

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

windows-10-150x150Microsoft has acknowledged that the Windows 10 adoption rate has slowed when it claimed the new operating system was running on approximately 400 million devices.

The company reset the Windows 10 uptake status on the same day it kicked off the 2016 edition of its Ignite conference in Atlanta.

Microsoft’s last Windows 10 update was at the end of June, a month before it halted the free upgrade for consumers and small businesses running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Then Microsoft pegged the number of “active devices” — a metric of those machines that ran the OS at least once in the past four weeks — at 350 million.

The increase of 50 million over more than 12 weeks — or about 17 million every four weeks — was lower than during the free upgrade offer period. For example, in the eight weeks from May 5 to June 29, Microsoft claimed 50 million active users were added to the Windows 10 rolls, or 25 million every four weeks.

Other measurements of Windows 10 have agreed with Microsoft’s assessment: Windows 10’s growth has slowed in the last month and more.

But Microsoft’s claim was in the same ballpark as Computerworld‘s latest calculation, which was based on Net Applications’ measurement of Windows 10’s user share and Microsoft’s oft-cited contention that 1.5 billion machines run Windows. At the end of last month, Computerworld‘s estimate of in-place Windows 10 stood at 380 million systems.

Microsoft has pledged to continue updating its Windows 10 “devices served” number, even though it back-pedaled two months ago from its previous 1-billion-by-mid-2018 goal. The timetable, the company said then, was unrealistic after it bailed out of virtually all the smartphone hardware market.

Virtual Reality Devices On The Rise

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The numbers of VR-enabled smartphones and tablets, as well as shipments of VR devices bundled with gaming consoles or PCs will grow like topsy in the fourth quarter.

Beancounters at Digitimes Research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that we should see some significant changes in the VR market soon.

Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones and VR devices bundled with consoles will be higher compared to other devices. Vendors of VR-enabled tablets and VR headset bundled PCs which niche markets initially before they make headways by coming out with products with reduced prices and enriched content, should do rather well, the Digitimes Report claim.

Gaming and video are still the dominant VR applications in 2016. The successful launch of VR video-enabled flagship smartphones by Samsung Electronics in the first half of 2016 will encourage other vendors to follow suit.

Google and ARM updates to their VR video applications with reduced algorithm requirements in the fourth quarter of 2016 will help develop more VR video-enabled mobile devices.

Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones are expected to reach 70 million units in 2016, accounting for 5 per cent of global smartphone shipments, Digitimes Research thinks.

Sony is expected to ship over three million PlayStation VR devices in the quarter, far higher than rival vendors.

Courtesy-Fud

MediaTek Goes For Two With TSMC

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While Intel has admitted it can’t build a 10nm chip, Mediatek is planning to release two of them using TSMC’s process.

According to the Economic Daily News MediaTek is considering rolling out two versions of its 10nm chips, the Helio X30 for high-end smartphones and the X35 for the lower-end segment.

It said that it will start volume production for the Helio X30-series SoCs as scheduled between the end of 2016 and early-2017. It is also thinking of having another 10nm series designed for mid- and high-end but not necessarily flagship smartphones.

The Helio X35 chips from MediaTek will also be built by TSMC using a lower-spec variant of the foundry’s 10nm processes. It is the first of TSMC’s first group of customers to adopt its 10nm process technology. The other is Apple.

TSMC said that its 10nm process has received product tape-outs from three clients, and will start generating revenues in the first quarter of 2017.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Fiber Wins Installation Battle In Nashville

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

google-fiber-logo-150x150Google Fiber won a victory in Nashville as the city’s Metro Council approved an ordinance called “One Touch Make Ready,” that would speed up the company’s fiber-optic cable installations.

The ordinance, passed by a voice vote, gives Google Fiber and other ISPs quicker access to utility poles for deploying fast broadband with fiber-optic cable.

Without the measure, each ISP has had to send out a separate crew to a utility pole to move its own line to make room for a new one. The ordinance would permit a single company to make the wire adjustments on a pole instead of waiting for existing providers — competitors like Comcast or AT&T– to make the changes, which could take months.

Mayor Megan Barry is expected to sign the measure into law, but is also expecting a legal challenge. AT&T is reportedly the most likely to file a lawsuit, and Barry said protracted litigation could delay implementation of the law and, therefore, fiber access for citizens, according to The Tennessean.

AT&T could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, Google Fiber posted an upbeat update to a previous blog. “It’s a great day for Nashville,” the blog said of the council’s vote. “This will allow new entrants like Google Fiber to bring broadband to more Nashvillians efficiently, safely and quickly.”

Google Fiber said it launched in Nashville in April,  although progress on the rollout has been sidetracked by the work on the ordinance.

Deploying fiber-optic cable on utility poles and underground is a costly and time-consuming process even when competition from other providers doesn’t pose disruptions. In August, a Wall Street Journal report said Google Fiber was hoping to rely on wireless technology instead of fiber in about 12 major cities to reduce its costs. Google Fiber officials did not comment to Computerworld on that report.

Samsung Delays Re-start Of Galaxy Note 7 Sales

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that it will be delaying the start of new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1, a move it says is needed for speedy completion of the ongoing recall in the country.

Samsung announced on Sept. 2 a recall of at least 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets, including South Korea, due to a faulty battery causing the phones to catch fire, offering refunds or replacement devices using safe batteries.

The firm hopes to complete the recall quickly and restart sales in the fourth quarter to salvage earnings, but the latest hitch in South Korea underscore continuing challenges in those efforts.

Though product exchanges in South Korea began on Monday, only about 200,000 affected customers have turned in their devices – which Samsung says represents half of affected customers and a recall pace that is much slower than other markets such as Singapore and the United States.

“The recall rate will likely fall sharply should new sales have resumed on Sept. 28,” the company said. Affected customers would no longer be able to exchange their devices through domestic carriers starting on Oct. 1, making the process more difficult.

Samsung hopes to restart new sales in affected markets once it makes enough progress with the recalls, having announced plans to restart sales in Australia and Singapore in October, but the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm.

Continued reports of Note 7 fires and damages after the recall announcement, along with warnings or outright bans from aviation authorities on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft, forced Samsung to ask affected customers to immediately turn off their phones to prevent further damage.

Samsung issued an apology for the confusion caused by the delay and said it would do its best to resolve the current Note 7 situation quickly.

Digital Map Company HERE Partners With Automakers To Share Traffic Data

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

here-maps-150x150German digital map maker HERE plans to roll out a new set of traffic services this week that allows drivers to see for themselves what live road conditions are like miles ahead using data from competing automakers, an industry first.

The Berlin-based company, owned by Germany’s three premium automakers, will provide four services in which drivers share detailed video views of traffic jams or accidents, potential road hazards like fog or slippery streets, traffic signs including temporary speed limits and on-street parking.

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen will all contribute data to the service, making their first big collaboration since they bought HERE for 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) late last year from mobile equipment maker Nokia of Finland.

Other automakers are expected to join the project later and contribute data from their vehicles, HERE said.

The new live traffic services are set to hit the road in the first half of 2017, HERE said on Monday before the opening of this week’s Paris Motor Show.

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles from the three German automakers are set to begin feeding visual data into the HERE system supplying these services, with millions of vehicles expected to contribute live traffic feeds by the end of 2018, HERE said.

“You have competing brands which are putting their data together to create very unique services which were not possible before,” Bruno Bourguet, HERE’s global head of sales, said in an interview.

Data collected from vehicles participating in the network, drawn from brakes, windshield wipers, headlights, location systems, cameras and other sensors, are translated into alerts on driver dashboards using the HERE services.

Collecting sophisticated data from millions of cars on the road promises to give HERE a substantial lead over technology rivals such as Google , Apple, Tesla and TomTom , which have access to data from far fewer vehicles to collect so-called crowd-sourced data, analysts say.

“Crowd-sourced data is crucial for live traffic/maps and the size of the user base will be key to differentiation,” UBS said in a recent report.

As other automakers contribute data for these services, an increasingly comprehensive view of road conditions around the world will be built to aid human drivers and, eventually, computer systems for autonomous cars, for which real-time road data is a pre-condition for replacing human drivers.

AMD 7nm APU Goes Gray Hawk

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

A few of you might remember that we exclusively posted the news that AMD is working on a 7nm CPU codenamed Starship. The 7nm APU is codenamed Gray Hawk and it aims to attain lower TDPs.

The AMD Starship X86 CPU is a 7nm unit with up to 48 cores and 96 threads and this definitely targets the high end server market as well as performance desktop computers. These CPUs will have a range of TDP values from 35W all the way to 180W. It is safe to assume that the version with 35W TDP ends up with much less than 48 cores.

Now AMD plans to launch its first 7nm and target some embedded markets. Of course, there will be a notebook version of a Gray Hawk, possibly with a different codename but AMD plans to use the 7nm quad core with eight threads, in 7nm for casino gaming machines, arcade gaming, industrial control and automation, retail signage, HMI and security machines. It will also fit into the highly profitable medical imaging market, premium thin clients and communication infrastructure.

We already said with that the APU that joins Polaris GPU architecture and 14nm FinFET Zen core is coming in the second half of 2017, and the Gray Hawk is the successor to that.

There is a big chance that this APU will mix with the Navi architecture that is also expected to launch in 7nm. This product is scheduled for a 2019 launch, so we have quite some time before it happens, but it is good to know that AMD is planning far ahead.

The lowest TPD parts will get to 10W, which sounds quite amazing considering what kind of specification that APU might end up having.

The middle of next year is when we expect to see the Zen / Polaris APUs in notebooks and a bit later in embedded systems. AMD’s Lisa Su was clear at Computex earlier this year. She said that the company plans to launch the desktop first, following with server then notebook and last of all t will be a unit aimed at the embedded market.

Bear in mind that these products should still be considered as concepts and they are subject to change. AMD first needs to master a 14nm FinFET low TDP notebook and embedded Zen based parts before it can more to the very exciting 7nm.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Qualcomm Win The 5G Race?

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf has been telling the world how it is going to win the 5G war which will bring about a bold new world based around the Internet of Things.

Writing in his bog, Mollenkopf claimed that Qualcomm was leading the way to 5G for the next 10 years and beyond.

He said that there will be 3G and 4G connected people, but 5G is going to connect everything.

“It’s a unifying, more capable communications fabric that will take on a much bigger role than previous generations of mobile technology. It’s a layer of connectivity that will become fundamental to our cities, jobs and ourselves. It’s the foundation of the next technological revolution.”

Lately 5G has been a bit of a buzz word lately, although there are no common standards issued yet. However if Mollenkopf is right, it will transform our daily lives once and for all by revolutionizing the way people interact with the world and with each other.

Hard to see how it can be any different. It might be faster, it might have different ways of connecting, but we will still have to talk to people. Mollenkopf said that 5G will expand mobile networks and technologies into a much wider range of industries.

“It will enable smart cities that can sustain tomorrow’s urban growth, automobiles that communicate with each other and traffic lights to save lives, VR headsets that allow us to experience the world in new ways, body sensors that monitor our health and make dietary recommendations, and so much more.”

Mollenkopf added that making this 5G connected world a reality is incredibly complex.

“ You need a new kind of mobile network to meet an expanding and radically diverse set of connectivity requirements – high throughput and low latency, high security and low power, high reliability and deep coverage. This will require new technology innovations that build upon the foundation that we have already created … Qualcomm is an invention company. We’ve been developing these 5G building blocks for years just as we pioneered many of the building blocks for 3G and 4G. Making one cutting-edge technology work well is difficult; making many of them work together is even harder. But that’s what Qualcomm does,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Privacy Groups Urge Probe Of WhatsApp Data Sharing Practices

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

whatsapp-logo-150x150The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should prohibit mobile messaging service WhatsApp from sharing user data with parent company Facebook in violation of earlier privacy promises, several privacy groups said.

The FTC should step in to stop WhatsApp from violating “commitments the company previously made to subscribers,” the 17 groups said in a letter sent to the agency Thursday. WhatsApp has long billed itself as a secure and private messaging service.

WhatsApp’s recently released plan to share user data with Facebook as a way to target advertising could amount to an “unfair and deceptive” trade practice, said the groups, including the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, and Demand Progress.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact this proposed change in data practices will have on the privacy and security of WhatsApp users in the U.S. and across the world,” the letter added. When Facebook acquired the messaging service in 2014, both companies “made numerous promises” that WhatsApp’s privacy policies wouldn’t change, the letter added.

WhatsApp complies with “applicable” laws, a spokeswoman said in response to the letter. “As always, we consider our obligations when designing updates like this,” she added by email.

WhatsApp has collected personal information from more than 1 billion users, “with the promise that this information would not be used or disclosed for marketing purposes,” the letter to the FTC said. “WhatsApp’s reversal on this promise is a material, retroactive change that will apply to previously collected data.”

The proposed changes in WhatsApp’s privacy policy have raised concerns outside the U.S. as well. On Friday, India’s Delhi High Court ordered the company to delete user data for people who opt out of the changes before Sunday, according to news reports. The court also told WhatsApp to avoid sharing data collected before then with Facebook, even for users who do not opt out of the new policy.

 

Is Twitter About To Go On The Auction Block?

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-buy-button-150x150Twitter Inc has initiated discussions with several technology companies to explore putting itself up for sale, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, signaling the start of what is likely to be a slow-rolling auction of the high-profile but profit-challenged social media company.

A sale of Twitter has been the subject of on-again, off-again rumors for many months as the company grapples with stagnant user growth, soft advertising sales and losses running at hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The company’s business struggles have come even as the 10-year-old service has evolved into a potent global source of news, entertainment and social commentary.

CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported on Friday that Twitter is in talks with companies including Google and may receive a formal bid soon. A source told Reuters that Salesforce.com is also in pursuit.

Twitter and Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company did not respond to a request for comment. Salesforce declined to comment.

Verizon, another company mentioned in media reports on Friday as a possible suitor, said it did not comment on M&A rumors but that it had not submitted a bid for the company.

Twitter shares jumped more than 19 percent to $22.22 per share on Friday, marking the largest one-day rise since their first day of trading in 2013. The company now has a market value of around $16 billion.

Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said Alphabet would be the best acquirer for Twitter since it has not yet been able to crack social media on its own despite several efforts.

“From a strategic standpoint, we think it would be more beneficial for Alphabet as opposed to Salesforce,” Mogharabi said. Former Google executive Omid Kordestani is executive chairman of Twitter.

Morningstar estimates Twitter could be bought for $22 per share. Twitter is working with investment banks Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co in considering possible transactions, sources familiar with the situation said.

Notebook Sells Spike In August

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Figures just in for August show that there has been a spike in the sales of notebooks.

Beancounters at Digitimes research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and come to the conclusion that the top-5 notebook vendors and top-3 notebook ODMs saw their shipments rise 27 percent  and 31 percent a month in August.

While it could mean that the notebook recession is over, the beancounters think that the spike is due to inventory preparation for the year-end holidays in Europe and North America, Windows 10’s annual upgrade, and mass shipments of Intel’s Kaby Lake processors.

The winner on the notebook front is HP which released some new products in August that successfully widened the vendor’s shipment gap by nearly 700,000 units. The number two was Lenovo. HP stayed firmly as the largest notebook vendor in the month. Dell turned its focus to the consumer sector in August, but its shipments only grew a single-digit percentage on month.

Digitimes Research said that Asustek Computer and Acer both saw boosts of 10 percent  on-month growths in August.

With HP’s significant shipment growth in August, the top three ODMs, which are all suppliers of HP, together achieved higher on-month growth than the top five vendors combined, while ODM’s combined on-year shipment growth turned positive for the first time in the past 16 months.

Quanta benefited from HP’s orders the most in the month, growing nearly 40 per cent from July.

Courtesy-Fud

Many Cisco Devices Remain Vulnerable To NSA Exploits

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

cisco-systems-150x150More than 840,000 Cisco networking devices globally are exposed to a vulnerability that’s similar to one exploited by a hacking group believed to be linked to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The vulnerability was announced by Cisco last week and it affects the IOS, IOS XE and IOS XR software that powers many of its networking devices. The flaw allows hackers to remotely extract the contents of a device’s memory, which can lead to the exposure of sensitive information.

The vulnerability stems from how the OS processes IKEv1 (Internet Key Exchange version 1) requests. This key exchange protocol is used for VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and other features that are popular in enterprise environments.

Cisco discovered the vulnerability internally after analyzing an exploit for Cisco PIX firewalls that was leaked last month by a hacking outfit called Shadow Brokers. The exploit was part of a larger set of attack tools that Shadow Brokers claimed are being used by a cyberespionage group known in the security industry as the Equation, believed to be linked to the NSA.

Because other hackers could find the same flaw by analyzing the exploit leaked by Shadow Brokers, Cisco decided to inform its customers about it through a security advisory, even though the company is still working on developing and releasing patches.

Many of the affected IOS, IOS XE and IOS XR releases don’t yet have fixed versions, but Cisco released detection signatures for intrusion prevention systems that could be used to protect networks from potential attacks.

The Shadowserver Foundation, an organization that tracks cybercrime and assists with botnet takedowns, has started an internet-wide scan to find Cisco devices affected by this vulnerability — with the goal of reporting them to their owners.

Its latest scan identified devices with 840,681 distinct IP addresses that responded as vulnerable to the probe.

Google Launches AI Chat App Allo

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

allo-1-150x150Google-parent Alphabet Inc rolled out Allo, a messaging app that integrates Google’s search feature and a chatbot that uses machine learning to “improve” itself over time.

The new messaging service, which was unveiled in May, will compete with Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp and Messenger. The much-anticipated launch comes a month after Google rolled out Duo, its video calling app.

Allo features a chatbot powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant like Apple Inc’s Siri.

Users can call up the assistant in a chat by typing “@google” followed by a search query and the results will be displayed in the chat itself.

“The more you use it, the more it improves over time,” Amit Fulay, group product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The app has a “Smart Reply” feature that suggests responses to chats and can be send with just a tap.

“If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like ‘aww cute!’,” Fulay wrote.

Users can also use stickers and scribble on photos before sending them.

Allo will have end-to-end encryption only while chatting in “Incognito” mode. Whatsapp chats have end-to-end encryption.

Google has started rolling out Allo and said the app would be available worldwide in the next few days.

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